Pitt Institute of Entrepreneurial Excellence, Regional Partners Secure $1.95 Million to Spur Economic Growth

Issue Date: 
October 17, 2011

Together, Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE), the Hill House Association (HHA), and the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ) have been awarded a $1.95 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The funds will be used to accelerate the creation of jobs and economic growth in underserved communities that have not benefited from the resurgence of industries in the region.

The Pittsburgh communities to be targeted through the program are the Hill District, East Liberty, Garfield, Larimer, Lincoln, and Homewood.

“The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence has great respect for entrepreneurs and believes that they are the lifeblood of the community—providing jobs and leadership at a time when both are sorely needed. This grant will enable the institute to continue its work in underserved communities and provide support so entrepreneurs can sustain and grow their businesses,” said Christine Kush, associate director of IEE.

As part of the grant, IEE and Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center will provide individualized business management consulting and educational programs to emerging and existing business owners. The PCKIZ, the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, the Hill Community Development Corporation, and Innovation Works will promote entrepreneurship and innovation in underserved communities to spur community development and job creation. HHA, the Community College of Allegheny County, and the Hill District Development Corporation will recruit individuals in distressed neighborhoods to participate in training programs that will prepare them for career advancement in the energy and health care fields.

“Our proposal addresses longstanding racial economic disparities in our region,” said William Generett Jr., president and CEO of PCKIZ. “It creates opportunities for residents of communities that haven’t yet benefited from the region’s economic transformation.”

The grant is part of the Obama Administration’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is designed to support 20 projects nationwide to help develop a skilled workforce and bolster long-term regional success.

“Collectively, these activities will produce a critical mass of programming that will have a substantial impact on these neighborhoods,” says Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and CEO of HHA. “Hill House looks forward to partnering with Community College and the Hill Community Development Corporation to provide advanced job training opportunities for individuals.”